The opposition’s representation in parliament is now severely depleted after 48 legislators were served with recall letters by rival MDC-T and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) factions.
Last week, a faction of Lucia Matibenga’s PDP recalled the MDC-Alliance vice president, Tendai Biti and five other members: Kucaca Ivumile Phulu of Nkulumane, Sichelesile Mahlangu of Pumula William Madzimure of Kambuzuma, Settlement Chikwinya of Mbizo, and Regai Tsunga of Mutasa South.
MDC Alliance’s criticism against the Speaker comes on the basis that he is responsible for upholding the rights and privileges of Members of the National Assembly.
Besides presiding over the sitting of the National Assembly and any joint sitting with of the National Assembly and the Senate, the Speaker has several duties.
In terms of Section 135 in Zimbabwe’s 2013 Constitution, the Speaker is the head of Parliament and in the exercise of his duties, is guided by Standing Orders, the Constitution of Zimbabwe, other statutes and parliamentary practices.
The person occupying the office of the Speaker must be a person of integrity, to command respects from internally amongst Parliamentarians, officers of Parliament and externally in government and the public.
But the opposition party argues that due to Mudenda’s alleged negligence, the expulsion of 48 legislators from parliament has resulted in disruption of the work of key parliamentary committees.
MDC Alliance Bulawayo Provincial Spokesperson, Swithern Chirowodza claimed the speaker was following a Zanu-PF script to crush the opposition.
“Mudenda knows political parties in Parliament are represented according to how they were registered at the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission but he continues to accept and action letters of demand from political parties with similar names,” he said.
“Instead of giving a prima facie benefit of the doubt to the MDC Alliance for having legislators in parliament, Mudenda gives political parties with similar names and no legislators in parliament the benefit of the doubt.”
Chirowodza said it was therefore not surprising that despite a valid court interdict barring the government from allotting MDC Alliance’s share of funds due under the Political Finances Act to MDC-T, Minister of Justice, Ziyambe Ziyambe announced the government will do the contrary.
“As it stands MDC Alliance’s appeal against the allotment is still pending before the courts yet Douglas Mwonzora has now been taken to task by his MDC-T colleagues for allegedly misappropriating the funds,” said the provincial spokesperson.
Former education minister David Coltart also took to Twitter to question Mudenda’s conduct.
“How is that the Speaker so readily accepted a letter from an unknown person purporting to be SG of the PDP, without any scrutiny or opportunity given to @BitiTendali & others to dispute the authenticity? Mudenda is a lawyer & should know about the obligation to hear both sides,” Coltart tweeted.
Former Nkulumane legislator, Phulu described the recalls as an attack on people’s will after they voted in the 2018 poll.
“I remain of good cheer and am talking this in my stride. I will not comment on what we are doing to challenge this illegal and fraudulent recall, save to condemn it as an act of muzzling the opposition and continuing undermining of the election results on a massive scale. That 48 members of Parliament from the opposition have been recalled to date speaks for itself,” he said.
The former legislator also vowed to continue representing the people of Nkulumane at various levels.
“I would like to thank the people of Nkulumane for electing me to be their voice in Parliament. I will continue to be that voice until the term for which they elected me expires. Meanwhile, I will continue with my duties as the Secretary for the Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs in the MDC Alliance,” Phulu said.
Chikwinya concurred they were illegally withdrawn from Parliament “by the Zanu-PF regime using newfound surrogates in the form of compromised former opposition members who include Dr Thokozani Khupe, Mwonzora and lately Matibenga and Benjamin Rukanda.”
He explained the latest six members were elected under MDC Alliance having been prior members of PDP.
“It needs to be stated that while the PDP had split primarily on the question of which coalition to join between MDC Alliance and Rainbow coalition, the Matibenga group participated in 2018 elections under Joice Mujuru and the Rainbow coalition while the Biti group went with MDC Alliance,” Chikwinya said.
The former Mbizo legislator said the basic fact at law the party that a member represents in an election is the one with the right of recall.
“It follows therefore that only the MDC Alliance has the right to recall MPs elected under its name. They can recall us from Parliament but can never recall us from the people. 2021 we are converging as Citizens for Change and people shall determine their future. We cannot let a captured judiciary, a compromised Speaker of Parliament and a corrupt Cabinet determine our lives,” Chikwinya said.
Chikwinya sat in the Mines and Media Parliamentary Committees.